Right about this time of year, a slurry of articles appear with suggestions for weather-warming cocktails, such as the Hot Toddy or fall cocktails that highlight orchard fruits and other seasonal delights. They almost always sound fabulous and perfect for this time of year, but as you have most likely already read those articles, I have decided to offer a different perspective. If we can’t have the sunshine, let’s at least pretend by changing up what we drink during the winter months. Introducing, cocktail island–hopping.
Tiki cocktail culture grew in popularity in part because it was an escape from wartime rations and travel restrictions. The idea was that you could find your paradise in a Tiki bar. Or, if you were in the dead of winter, you could find some sunshine being surrounded by fake palm trees and Polynesian paraphernalia designed to remind you of far-off tropical islands, complemented by cocktails made with island rum and tropical fruits, and complete with colorful garnishes, umbrellas and curly straws. Here are some drinks that hail from tropical islands offered to you in the hope that, for a moment, you forget winter is coming.
Hawaii: Mai Tai
Although technically invented in California, the Mai Tai is the house cocktail of Hawaii (if an entire group of islands can have a house cocktail, that is). It is also the grandfather of all Tiki cocktails. Although it was originally invented by the godfather of Tiki cocktail culture, Don Beach, it was his closest rival, Victor J. Bergeron aka Trader Vic, whose recipe we reference and use most often today.
1 ounce Rhum Clément VSOP
1 ounce Blackwell Rum
1 ounce fresh lime juice
1/2 ounce Orange Curaçao
1/4 ounce orgeat syrup
1/8 ounce simple syrup
Shake all ingredients with ice and strain over crushed ice into a double old-fashioned glass. Garnish with mint.
Interesting fact: Legend has it that when Don Beach moved to Hawaii, he smuggled mint in his hat so that he could use it in his cocktails there.
Puerto Rico: Piña Colada
Nothing sparks images of sitting by a pool in the heat quite like a Piña Colada. It was allegedly invented at Puerto Rico’s Caribe Hilton Hotel by barman Ramón Marrero, probably at the pool bar. Whatever the drink’s history may or may not be, it was declared the island’s national drink in 1978.
2 ounces Caña Brava Rum
2 ounces fresh pineapple juice
2 ounces cream of coconut
Mix in a bender with a half a cup of crushed ice. Pour into a hurricane glass. Garnish with a pineapple slice, a cocktail cherry and a tiny cocktail umbrella for good measure.
The British Virgin Islands: Pain Killer
The home of this cocktail is the legendary Soggy Dollar Bar on the island of Jost Van Dyke in the BVIs. The bar got its name because the only way to get there is to swim, leading to some soggy dollars being exchanged at the bar. The bar’s signature cocktail is the world-renowned Pain Killer.
2 ounces Pusser’s Rum
4 ounces fresh pineapple juice
1 ounce cream of coconut
1 ounce orange juice
Shake ingredients and strain over ice into a hurricane glass. Garnish with an orange slice and some grated nutmeg.
Bermuda: Dark ‘N’ Stormy
This is an island drink that brings you back to the realities of winter weather with a name that references those dark and stormy nights. Hailing from the island of Bermuda, it is a simple mix of Goslings Black Rum, Ginger Beer and lime. It is one of the only drinks in the world with a trademark.
Dark ‘N’ Stormy
1 1/2 ounces Goslings Black Seal Rum
4 ounces Barritt’s Ginger Beer
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
Build over ice into a hi-ball glass and garnish with a lime wedge.
Singapore: Singapore Sling
Legendary bon vivant Charles H. Baker, Jr. dubbed this drink “The Immortal Singapore Raffles Gin Sling” in his Gentleman’s Companion, published in 1939. The world famous Raffles Hotel has claimed the Singapore Sling as its own since bartender Ngiam Tong Boon jotted down the recipe there in 1915. Now, thousands of cocktail tourists arrive by the busload to clamor up to the Long Bar and quickly down one.
The Singapore Sling
1 1/2 ounces Fords Gin
1/2 ounce Cherry Heering
1/4 ounce Combier
1/4 ounce Benedictine
2 ounces fresh pineapple juice
2 dashes Grenadine
1 dash Angostura
Shake all ingredients except soda with ice and strain over fresh ice into a Collins glass. Top with soda and garnish with an orange slice and a cherry.
Writing this article just made me think I should start a company that specializes in cocktail trips around the world and the idea that we should have the world’s biggest bar crawl. Until that business starts, I hope you enjoy these summer cocktails this winter. Also recommended is listening to the Beach Boys.
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